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Innovation Unscripted with Industrial Light & Magic

September 28, 2022 AT 12:00 pm September 29, 2022 AT 8:00 pm EDT

The National Science & Technology Medals Foundation (NSTMF) hosted two days of events featuring representatives from Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) on September 28-29 of 2022 in partnership with California State University East Bay (CSUEB).

ILM is renowned for their monumental achievements in the special effects industry, having made history through their work in Star Wars, Men in Black, Avengers, Harry Potter, and more. From humble beginnings in a warehouse in Van Nuys, California, ILM now continues to lead the special effects industry with bold ideas and a relentless drive for innovation. Check out all the highlights below.  

A Sizzle Reel about the NSTMF’s incredible few days featuring ILM experts and connecting them with the incredible student body at California State University: East Bay.

Innovation Unscripted with Industrial Light and Magic Highlight: Coping with Burnout

ILM Panelists share their strategies for coping with burnout

Innovation Unscripted with Industrial Light and Magic Highlight: Bring your most authentic self

ILM Panelists speak to how being yourself is the best you can bring to ILM

Innovation Unscripted with Industrial Light and Magic Highlight: Why ILM?

ILM Panelists share what they enjoy the most about working at ILM.

Innovation Unscripted with Industrial Light and Magic Highlight: First Job Advice

ILM Panelists share advice about landing your first job.

Innovation Unscripted with Industrial Light and Magic Highlight: Common Misconceptions

ILM Panelists share common misconceptions about their work.


Moderator: Linda Renteria - image

Moderator: Linda Renteria

Linda and her husband Robert Sanchez, own and manage Casa Sanchez Foods, a 3rd generation manufacturer and distributor of fresh salsas and tortilla chips which began in San Francisco’s Mission in 1924. The company, now in Hayward, has over 150 employees. Linda excelled in STEM in high school and attended the Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara in Mexico to pursue a degree in Civil Engineering and experience her culture. After college, Linda joined Pacific Gas & Electric Company as Construction Project Manager in 1984. She received her MS degree in Engineering & Construction Management from UC Berkeley in 1995. Linda left her professional career to work on her most important project – raising her three children. She continued promoting STEM, language immersion programs and volunteering in her kids’ schools. She worked part-time for the SF Unified School district and their businesses (Bars at SFO, cafes at SF State University and Casa Sanchez Foods). In 2010, Linda joined Casa Sanchez Foods full time as the Chief Operation Officer. Linda continues to share her experience in STEM, Manufacturing and Entrepreneurship with high school & college students. She is a member of advisory groups for Castro Valley High Engineering Pathway and the Chabot Jr. College Advanced Manufacturing Program. She is on the Boards of the Hayward Chamber of Commerce, Cal State East Bay Education Foundation, Employer Advisory Committee of Alameda, Association of Manufacturer’s Bay Area, and St Rose Hospital Foundation.

Panelist: Daniel Rosales Mendoza - image

Panelist: Daniel Rosales Mendoza

Daniel Rosales Mendoza is a 3D Story Artist at Lucasfilm Animation. Under the direction of colleague Nate Villanueva, he brought the lightsaber battle between Ahsoka Tano and Maul to life in Season 7 of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. He is currently working as a 3D Story Artist in the recently announced animated series Star Wars: The Bad Batch. Born and raised in Barquisimeto, Venezuela, and coming from a family of Engineers, Daniel understands the challenges and difficulties of immigrating to another country and starting a career in entertainment. Never losing sight of his core value of never giving up on his dreams and to always have fun while pursuing them, Daniel brings his Latin heritage wherever he goes (including, but not limited to, lots of salsa dancing while working).Before joining Lucasfilm Animation, Daniel worked as an Episodic Director and Senior Cinematic Artist for Telltale Games. He worked on multiple IPs including The Walking Dead, Tales of Borderland, Game of Thrones, Minecraft Story Mode and Batman. While at Telltale, he served as the onsite assistant director for the outsourced Cinematic team at Virtours-Sparks in Vietnam. Daniel also has previous experience working as a Junior Animator and Previzualizaton Artist in other VFX studios such as Luma Pictures and MPC for Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man, The Last Witch Hunter and Monster Trucks.Daniel has a Masters degree in Fine Arts in 3D Animation from the Academy of Art University of San Francisco, and also a Bachelor’s degree in Informatic Engineering from Universidad Centroccidental Lisandro Alvarado from Barquisimeto Venezuela.

Panelist: Mercedes Khumnark - image

Panelist: Mercedes Khumnark

Mercedes Khumnark is a Junior Generalist at Industrial Light and Magic. She was an apprentice of ILM’s Jedi Academy program where she was mentored by highly skilled supervisors and seniors to help build a strong foundation in becoming a Generalist. During the program, she was able to gain hands on experience what it’s like working on a show by being put on the Star Wars show Obi-wan. After graduating the program, she continues to work on shows such as The Book of Boba Fett, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind ride, and currently is working on Ahsoka! Mercedes comes from a small family of Thai Immigrates. Growing up Mercedes was an artist and athletic. Her mother used to take her to golf practice every single day- before she passed away from cancer when she was a teenager. Despite the difficult adversities and hardships, Mercedes gained a golf scholarship for a Division 1 university. However, she later on made the decision to transfer to an art school to pursue her true creative dreams. Her strong work ethic and mixed with her competitive nature establish a drive for success. Mercedes graduated as valedictorian from Savannah College of Art and Design in 2020 with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Interactive Design and Game Development.

Panelist: Francis David Bustos - image

Panelist: Francis David Bustos

Francis David Bustos is a Cal State East Bay alumni (Class of 2020) who graduated with a B.S. in Computer Science. He is currently interning for ILM as a Media Systems Engineer. Francis was born in the Philippines and raised in the Bay Area. Growing up, he was surrounded by both technology and entertainment. During his public school years, he had an on-off relationship with coding and programming, editing Lua scripts and not understanding what he was doing. In his junior year of high school, he took a Computer Science course as an elective and learned a lot of programming fundamentals with C++. In his senior year of high school, he took an AP Computer Science course to boost his GPA since it was mostly a repeat of the previous year, but in Java. Throughout his undergraduate career, he built some projects based on what interested him at the time, such as a graphics renderer, procedural game difficulty, and emulating player behaviors with a utility-based intelligent agent. He participated in a few hackathons, but was never satisfied with what was produced. In his final year of undergraduate studies, he participated in the development of a research publication based on computer vision and fall detection in the first-person perspective. Outside of software, he helped produce, model and texture environmental objects, and rig and animate a bird for an independent video game and creates short films and writes music for clearing his thoughts. He enjoys wandering about wherever his feelings take him, whether it’s on foot or in a car.


Chenming Hu

National Medal of Technology and Innovation


Shirley Ann Jackson

National Medal of Science

Physical Sciences

Mary-Claire King

National Medal of Science

Biological Sciences